While human resources management deals with all aspects of the employee experience — from benefits administration to leave of absence tracking — employee relationship management (ERM) focuses specifically on relationships between employees.
This includes how employees feel about your company as a whole, and how well they get along with their managers and other team members.
Employee relationship management is key to maintaining a strong company culture and reducing turnover at your organization.
Here’s what HR departments need to know about employee relationship management, and how you can use HR automation to foster positive employee relations.
What Is Employee Relationship Management?
Employee relationship management is the practice of encouraging strong relationships in the workplace so as to improve employee retention and employee morale. This can include simple things like celebrating employees’ birthdays, as well as more in-depth initiatives like team building events and mentorship programs.
Although strong employee relationships can develop naturally at the team level, having a company-wide ERM strategy can foster a positive work environment overall. An effective employee relations strategy can improve employee productivity and job satisfaction, and reduce conflict through open communication and transparency.
Examples of Employee Relationship Management in Action
Good employee relationship management begins during the onboarding process and continues throughout the employee lifecycle. Here are just three examples of how to support good employee relations in the workplace.
It’s your managers’ responsibility to ensure that new hires get up to speed quickly and to support their professional development in the workplace. But a structured mentorship program can go a long way toward ensuring that new employees feel at home in your organization and supported in their new responsibilities.
According to Harvard Business School, the employees who need mentoring the most “are often the least likely to seek it out” on their own initiative.
When conflicts arise, it can put a strain on your entire organization. Having a conflict management process in place — and teaching employees skills for having healthy disagreements — can improve morale and well-being in the workplace.
Create a standardized process for reporting incidents so employees feel comfortable addressing them before they become an issue.
Group activities help to build a sense of camaraderie in the workplace. Schedule social outings, team building exercises, and company retreats to give employees a chance to get to know each other and build healthy relationships with their co-workers.
Boost employee engagement with a holiday gift exchange, weekly lunch meetup, group wellness classes, and other perks or incentives.
4 Benefits of Employee Relationship Management
Employee relations management isn’t just about employee satisfaction. It’s also about streamlining workflows and improving your organizational structure. When your human resources department can anticipate and address employee needs, you’ll spend less time dealing with conflict and more time focusing on larger objectives.
Here are four areas in which maintaining good relationships with your employees can benefit your organization overall.
Employees who have positive relationships with their co-workers and managers are less likely to get into conflict, shirk their professional responsibilities, or show up late to the job. One study found that even a single individual’s “lateness or absenteeism can increase the probability that coworkers will need to work longer.”
Employees with strong working relationships help to motivate each other and hold each other to high standards, ensuring consistent employee performance.
A safe workplace is one in which employees feel relaxed and comfortable while doing their job. This applies to physical safety from common workplace hazards, as well as emotional safety, such as freedom from abuse and harassment.
Employee relationship management can improve team spirit and contribute to a strong company culture by cultivating a shared vision and values. Employees who feel heard and supported, and have a healthy work-life balance, are less likely to seek out other job opportunities, leading to increased employee retention.
You can boost morale and foster relationships across teams by hosting company-wide award ceremonies and employee appreciation events.
A big part of employee relationship management is recognizing that your employees won’t be in the same job indefinitely. That isn’t ideal for you or for them. Provide your employees with opportunities for internal advancement by identifying skill gaps and paying for training programs so that employees can earn new credentials.
Even when employees do move on, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the transition with succession planning and advanced workforce analytics.
How to Implement Employee Relationship Management
Employee relationship management isn’t a standalone initiative. You’ll need to integrate your employee relations strategy with other aspects of HR management, such as leave of absence management and performance management.
Here are four ways that HR professionals can incorporate good employee relationship management into their daily operations.
1. Automate the Onboarding Process
Employee relationship management starts with effective onboarding. Use automation to streamline and standardize the onboarding process so that all employees undergo the appropriate training and receive a thorough introduction to company culture.
When you use a cloud-based HR automation platform like Pulpstream, you can create new user accounts automatically, deliver online training materials, send out welcome emails, and even schedule a meeting with a mentor or manager.
Don’t wait for new employees to take the initiative: Make one-on-one meetings part of the process so that new hires can build strong relationships from day one.
2. Use the Right Tools for Communication
Open communication is key to maintaining good relationships in the workplace. Team members need to be able to communicate openly with each other in order to develop rapport, collaborate on projects, and deliver constructive criticism and feedback.
Remote communication tools like Slack and Zoom are a must for remote teams, but even an in-person workforce needs an efficient way to communicate. Use group chats and surveys to drive engagement and solicit feedback, and create a knowledge base where employees can go to troubleshoot their own HR problems online.
3. Standardize Performance Management
Even a healthy workplace can have problems with absenteeism, insubordination, and other performance issues. Use a standardized process to address recurring issues to avoid bias and ensure that employees are treated fairly and equally.
Having a performance management process in place allows managers to discipline team members without jeopardizing otherwise good employee relations.
4. Follow Up Regularly
Employee relationship management isn’t a one-time thing, but a continuous process. Even after an employee has completed their onboarding program or mentorship, be sure to follow up regularly and keep the lines of communication open.
Encourage frequent meetings between employees and their managers — even when there’s nothing specific to address — and use performance review templates so that leadership can maintain a consistent record of an employee’s progress.
When employees know they can bring up their concerns along the way, there’s less opportunity for disagreements and frustrations to build up.
Automate Employee Relationship Management With Pulpstream
Employee relationship management is about giving your employees the tools they need to develop strong relationships with each other — and a positive relationship with your company. Although some aspects of employee relationship management occur at the managerial level, your HR team can shape the process by developing policies for managers to follow and providing opportunities for employee engagement.
Pulpstream makes it easy to digitize and modernize your employee relations strategy with our no-code HR management platform. Our cloud-based software offers robust ERM tools for your HR team, as well as a self-service portal where employees can access important information and upload paperwork.